Re: New Dolphin Species Found in Australia

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Posted by on July 06, 2005 at 21:53:07:

In Reply to: New Dolphin Species Found in Australia posted by on July 05, 2005 at 16:26:14:

SYDNEY (AFP) - The first new dophin species to be identified in 30 years has been found in Australian waters, researchers announced.

he shy Australian snubfin dolphin lives in shallow coastal waters in northern Australia and possibly Papua New Guinea, said scientists Isabel Beasley and Peter Arnold.

The snubfin was initially thought to have been an Irrawady dolphin, usually found in Asia and Australia, but DNA tests proved that it was a different species, said Beasley of James Cook University in Townsville.

The dolphin has been given the scientific name of Orcaella heinsohni in honour of earlier research in the 1960s and 70s by the university's George Heinsohn.

Because the snubfins live in coastal waters "they are susceptible to many human threats including accidental catch in shark and fishing nets as well as effects of coastal development," Beasley said.

"Human threats on Irrawaddy dolphins in Southeast Asia are even more severe. Five Southeast Asian dolphin populations were recently classified as 'critically endangered' by the World Conservation Union.

"This means the total population is less than 50 individuals so there is a high chance of local extinction in the near future," she said.

Arnold, of the Museum of Tropical Queensland, told AFP they had no figures yet for the snubfin population, which he said was the first new species discovered in 30 years.

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